Beth Edwards is a Banking Services’ team manager at Santander Operations in Bootle. After leaving school, rather than going to university, Beth chose to go straight into work and has now been with the bank for ten years. In this interview, she speaks about why she chose the UCQ Chartered Manager Degree Apprenticeship (CMDA) and what advice she would give to anyone considering doing it.
Q: Please tell us a little bit about yourself Beth
A: After leaving school, I decided to go straight into work rather than university, and have been with Santander for 10 years now, the last 7 of which have been as a team manager. When joining the bank, I started on an agency contract as part of the team supporting customers switching to Santander from other banks. I later secured a permanent role as a senior customer service advisor and was responsible for migrating new work from London to our head office in Bootle. I went on to secure the team manager role which I currently hold, which has helped to broaden my knowledge by managing various teams across the bank.
Q: Why did you choose to undertake the UCQ CMDA programme?
A: As I didn’t go to university, I saw this as a great opportunity allowing me to combine work whilst studying for a degree. As well as improving my skills, I am looking to develop my knowledge of modern management with the aim of progressing further within Santander in the future.
Q: What concerns did you have prior to starting the programme?
A: I had reservations about the amount of time the course would take on top of my job, and how supportive the bank would/could be due to the day to day pressures of the business; I was also worried that I would not receive enough support from my lecturers and/or assessor. I am pleased to say however, that although there is a lot to do, none of my worries have materialised, and things are going really well!
Q: What impact has the UCQ CMDA had upon your performance as a professional manager?
A: I am more aware of my management style and am much more conscious when deciding on the most effective management method depending on my specific situation – not only has this had a positive impact on my personal performance, it has also had a positive impact on the performance of my team.
Q: What are your professional aims and ambitions and how do you believe the UCQ CMDA will support you in achieving these?
A: I always strive to work to the best of my ability and believe that completing this course will give me a deeper knowledge, and broader range of skills, in business management, which are transferable in the future. I would like to progress further within Santander and feel that the UCQ CMDA will give me the mobility I am looking for, and is pushing me in the right direction.
Q: How would you say studying with UCQ differs to a conventional university?
A: As I chose not to go to university after leaving school, I can’t really compare. What I can say however, is that I have been pleasantly surprised with the level of support given by my assessor and my lecturers. They are on hand 24/7 if I ever need support and are only an email or telephone call away.
Q: What is your typical study workload, and how do you balance this with work and other commitments?
A: Each module includes an academic assignment along with portfolio evidence being compiled at the same time. It can be a challenge to find time during work to concentrate on studies, but as long as you are organised, have a supportive employer and schedule time out of your diary it works. As part of the pre course information, I understood the amount of work this degree would involve and therefore am proactive in managing my work-life balance effectively. Having a genuine interest in business management, and a positive drive to progressing further in my career, helps keep me stay focused and on top of things.
Q: Please describe the types and level of support you receive from UCQ?
A: I have different lecturers for different subject areas, who, following lectures, schedule one to ones with each student to discuss issues, concerns or support required. My professional development assessor is fantastic, and schedules regular webinar sessions to provide an overview of portfolio requirements, before scheduling one to one visits with each student to conduct work place observations which form part of the portfolio evidence.
Q: What advice would you give to anyone considering doing the UCQ CMDA?
A: If you are keen to develop and learn new things in order to better yourself, I would encourage you to take part in the UCQ CMDA. I am in the second year of my degree and have learnt so much already! I have studied topics which I haven’t covered in my 7 years of being a manager, and which you would never “pick up on the job”. It is a great opportunity and, as long as you are willing to put in the work, it will benefit you.
If Beth’s interview has inspired you to apply to join one of our CMDA cohorts starting in March 2020, click here to download an application form, complete and return it to firstname.lastname@example.org and one of the friendly people from our student services team will be touch!